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bsmith6356 05-14-2011 03:22 PM

Toilet won't sit all the way on floor
Hi there-
I do light plumbing work, and am installing a toilet for a customer. When I set new toilet, there is a gap (maybe 1/4-3/8") between toilet bottom and floor (not sitting flush). I talked to my brother, I remember he said he had the same problem once, he told me a plumber had to come out and "bore out" the pipe so the toilet would sit right. His pipes were PVC, the one I'm working on is some kind of metal (cast iron? house was probably built in late 70s or early 80s). Anyway, toilet is one that has tank connected to toilet part. Should I tell customer to get a different toilet that would fit, or am I going to have that problem with any new toilet? Or am I going to have to have a plumber come out and put in a new fitting? If so, is that very expensive (roughly)? I live in Charlotte, NC

broox 05-14-2011 05:22 PM

This could be a tough one. The flange is too high above the finished floor. A new commode might not necessarily be better. Since you probably can not raise the floor, you will have to lower the flange. What kind of wax ring are you using? If you are using one with a horn or gasket in it, using a regular one could solve your problem. Good Luck!!

Homerepairguy 05-14-2011 05:30 PM

Here's a fix that can work to raise the floor level so that the toilet sits perfectly level and doesn't bottom out on the floor flange. The object is to make a plywood form and fill the center with mortar. Then remove the plywood form and set the toilet on the raised mortar bed. I've actually done this procedure so I know it works.

1. OK, I remember how I got the height of the mortar bed now. What I did was to place the toilet on the floor and it bottomed out on the floor flange. I made sure that the center of the toilet’s drain hole was centered over the toilet flange hole. I used shims to raise the toilet just enough so it wouldn’t bottom out on the floor flange and so the top of the bowl was perfectly level.

2. Then I measured all around the bottom edges of the toilet getting the highest and lowest measurements. Then I added 3/8” to those measurements so I knew how high the mortar bed needed to be to have 3/8” clearance for the wax ring.

3. I scribed the base of the toilet on the floor using a grease pencil before I removed the toilet.

4. Now get a piece of plywood, the thickness being how high you need to shim the toilet up. Place the toilet on the plywood and scribe the outline of the bottom of the toilet base on the plywood. Cut out the scribed portion "very carefully", cutting on the inside of the scribe mark. You will be using both the outside and cutout portions for this procedure.

5. Set the outside plywood so the cutout is aligned with the scribe marks on the floor (step3). Level the top of the plywood using shims.

6. Mix some mortar so it is stiff enough to hold its shape. Place a 3" ring of mortar inside of the plywood form and use a straight edge to level the mortar with the top of the plywood.

7. Remove the plywood form and place the cutout on the mortar bed so it is aligned with the scribe marks on the floor. Work the mortar around the edges so the mortar has vertical edges. The mortar needs to be a hair smaller than the base of your toilet so none of the mortar will stick out from the base.

8. Remove the plywood cutout and let the mortar dry completely.

9. Install the toilet on the mortar base and it will sit firmly with zero rocking. Don't forget the wax ring.

10. After the toilet is completely installed and working, caulk the bottom of the toilet using the color of caulk to match the color of the toilet.

The mortar bed should not be noticeable due to the caulking and the finished job will look very professional.


plumber666 05-14-2011 07:09 PM

When you say "customer", I'm assuming you mean you are being paid to do this work. If you are charging somebody for work you don't know how to do, I'd call you a crook. Since this is a DIY site, asking advice on how to do work you are underqualified to do, not ticketed to do, and not doing for yourself in your own home, I say, "Get lost!!"

bsmith6356 05-14-2011 08:00 PM

Toilet won't sit all the way on floor
Homerepairguy and Broox, thanks so much for the advice!

Plumber666...take a chill pill, dude. I'm a contractor remodeling a bathroom, and at the last minute the customer asked me to replace their toilet. I've done several at home, and never run into this situation. Are you going to tell me you've never done ANYTHING that you're not licensed to do, and run into a glitch? PLEASE.

CndyHnt 02-01-2013 09:28 AM

@HomeRepairGuy. This is the best solution I've read to my problem, which is also that my bathroom floor is lower than the flange. Short of trying to cut cement board, fit it in, etc., nothing has worked.

If I'm reading your suggestion correctly, in layman's terms, I should measure around the toilet, create a form, place it on the floor and then fill it with mortar, molding it to shape, etc.

Here's my question. You're adding another 3/8" for the wax ring. You lost me here. Shouldn't the form that I create out of mortar ultimately be the same height as the flange that is currently in place. The underneath side of the toilet has the area that allows for the wax ring.

Hoping to complete this over the weekend as once again, I stepping in a puddle in the landing in the living room, just beneath the bathroom. This is how I tell when the wax ring has worn out. Not fun !

Many thanks for your guidance
~Cindy (a single mother of two and do it yourselfer, mostly to save cost, not because I necessarily enjoy it).

oh'mike 02-01-2013 10:01 AM

Cindy--post a picture of your flange---wax rings only fail if something moves----it sounds to me that your flange is defective or not attached to the floor correctly----

I've removed toilets installed in 1928 that never had a wax 'wear out'---they last forever if the toilet flange is good and the toilet is installed properly

CndyHnt 02-01-2013 10:10 AM

@Oh'Mike. I'm at work now so can't post a picture until later. The problem, recently created, is because someone (prior to my purchase of the home) repaired a cast iron flange by installing a pvc compression flange. Unfortunately, it appears that they didn't cut down the cast iron, which causes the pvc flange to sit about 1/4 inch higher than the tile floor.

I've shimmed the toilet previously to keep it from wobbling, tried other DIY techniques, to no avail. Of course, the wax ring shouldn't fail, unless of course, in this case, there isn't a tight seal and the rocking or unlevel footing causes movement.

Of course, I'm looking for a DIY solution and it seemed like creating a form, filling it with mortar was more easily doable for someone with my skill set, rather than griding down a cast iron pipe. Did I mention, I can't seem to get the PVC flange out either otherwise I would have gone that route. Is there another solution that will fit down in the cast iron rather than over it.

Again, many thanks for all of the kind assistance.

oh'mike 02-01-2013 10:21 AM

This thin steel flange is easy to install ,thanks to the 'ears' that let you hit solid flooring.
It is as thin as you will find and might do the fix ,properly for $12 or so----

CndyHnt 02-01-2013 12:39 PM

This might get me closer. How can I get the PVC one out, can I cut it ? Also, this doesn't appear to have a lip, but I'm guessing that so long as I have something to bolt the toilet to, the wax seal fills the void. Can the edge of the cast iron just be jagged.

oh'mike 02-01-2013 12:46 PM

I need that picture--but these are quite strong---and can bridge an opening---

Typically ,I'lll take a spare ,all wax ring, and form that over the top and down into the pipe a bit--then place another ring on top to seal the toilet.

The old plastic one can be cut to remove---it's soft and should not be to difficult---

jagans 02-01-2013 01:22 PM

Can you access the closet bend from below by cutting out the ceiling?

Cut out the old, improperly set flange and do it right. The flange should sit flush on top of the finished floor.

Forming a riser from mortar is a Half Axed approach, and may be OK in a basement or a gas station, but your client will not like it, it will not hold up, and it will look like a Rube Goldberg.

buddy builder 02-02-2013 07:02 AM

if it is cast iron sometimes the pipe itself is stubbed up a little higher than the flange. in the old days, during rough-in the pipe was stubbed up 2-4 inches above finished floor. this allowed consumer to do tile, vinyl, or whatever. when it came time to install the floor flange the plumber would take an adjustable wrench and place it over the pipe, tighten it, then snap off some pipe. he would work his way around the pipe until he had it where he wanted. the problem with this was it was time consuming and not always was the pipe snapped off completely flush or a little below the flange before the hot lead was poured. just a little jagged edge sticking up from the pipe inside of the flange has made many a commode rock. the answer, if this is the case, is a grinder.

joecaption 02-02-2013 07:09 AM

Exactly what I was thinking.
I've seen many an old toilet done like that. Most never had a flange just dowel bolts holding it down.
Of course most of them also had leaked and rotted out the floor.

buddy builder 02-02-2013 07:20 AM

another possibility since it is only 1/4 or 3'8 inch up is to "caulk it." i emphasise that because a frame guy in our town used that slogan for everything. i never used him. if you make sure the wax seal is good, level the commode with a 2' level. tighten the bolts down to where you want them if there was no rocking. don't overtighten them. buy some backer rod from the large box store. should be in the weatherstripping dept. it is a round foam filler. place this all around the commode at the floor about 1/4 inch inside the bowl to be a backing for caulk. you can't go in far or it will fall free inside under the bowl.leave about one inch in the very back open. when you're happy, caulk with a tub and tile caulk. it can be bought in a tube for a caulking gun. at lowe's they have two kinds. look on the side of the tube for the one that states it is washable, mildew resistant, and paintable. this is the better of the two. now get you a little bucket of water and cut an old t-shirt up to have rags to help out. caulk around the base of the bowl but leave that same one inch out at the back. this hole will allow water to come out if you have a seal problem which you need to know. wet the rags, sqeeze them out good and help make the caulk look good. not too much water or it will dissapate the caulk.

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